Guest Author - Connie Krochmal
The jovibaras are hardy alpine plants that deserve to be more popular. Originally native mainly to mountainous regions, these are found over much of Europe, including south-central Europe and the Balkan region as well as that of the former Soviet Union.
These plants have a similar appearance to the houseleeks, or hen-and-chicks (Sempervivum spp.) in some respects. However, one difference lies with the flowers. The blossoms of the jovibaras have six petals with fringed margins and six sepals. The petals are usually pastel yellow with a bell-like corolla.
The fleshy leaves of the jovibaras form attractive rosettes just like houseleeks.
There are several species of jovibaras that are in cultivation. These include the following. Jovibara hirta was once considered to be a species of hen-and-chicks, but has now been reclassified. This evergreen is hardy to about zone five or so.
In the wild, this species is found in rocky areas and mountainous regions. Originally native to southern Europe, it has small rosettes that are around 1½ to three inches across. Perhaps six inches in height, it is easily recognized by the new foliage that doesn’t roll up into balls like that of most jovibaras.
The greenish-gray foliage is lance-like. It is so tightly packed together that a rosette can contain four dozen leaves. The outer leaves of the rosettes will have red or purplish tinges. The leaves, which are ½ inch long, are hairy with bristles along the edges. The pastel yellow blooms open on branched spikes or panicles. The dense, rounded flower clusters are four inches wide. The bell-like flowers are rather large with the petals being ¾ inch in length. The margins of the petals have prominent reddish hairs. This species blooms during July and August.
In addition to this species, there is also a sub-species with very colorful, red leaves. It is native to the Alps. It is very prolific, and produces lots of pups. It features whitish-green blossoms that open on tall flower stalks.
Jovibara sobolifera was once classified as a houseleek. This species is native to much of Europe, particularly south-central Europe and the former Soviet Union. It is particularly common in the mountains. It is hardy to zone five or so.
This species has rosettes that are somewhat smaller than some other jovibaras. These are only 1½ to 2 inches wide and around eight inches tall. The rosettes generally rsesemble little globes. The olive-green to gray foliage is around ½ inch in length. As the plants mature, the tips of the leaves can become red. The margins are fringed. The tiny leaves are packed together very tightly in the rosettes. There can be as many as 80 leaves per rosette. The bell-like soft yellow or yellow-green blooms open in small clusters. For the best flowering, some of the pups will need to be removed. Otherwise flowering will be rather sparse. The pups are attached to the mother plant by only a single thread. This species blooms during the summer months.